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Trudeau’s Self-Serving War with Russia

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Well, here’s a little piece of a video that explains why our illustrious leader Trudeau is so eagerly beating and fanning the flames of war by the west against Russia. For self-serving reasons, as it turns out. Its the economy, stupid…. Just got to get past that pesty inflation business, and we can replace Russia as a global supplier of raw materials and such, and reap the rewards of this Ukraine/Russia war.

Yet, another war for profit, disguised as a war for freedom and democracy. Ya, right! We’re such suckers to believe this again, but some of us are not. Sorry!

3:22-5:33

Excerp

“Canada is an interesting country because it occupies a geography quite like Russia and it has under its soil resources quite like Russia. And here’s a lesson we can learn as Russia gets frozen out of the world economy, at least that’s the goal of the sanctions, as the people imposing them from President Biden on down tell us.

Well, understandably, people who need exports of raw materials and so on from Russia have turned to Canada because it has the similar products and the Canadians of course seeing profit are trying to respond. But here’s the problem. A sudden increase in demand means that Canada is discovering it doesn’t have the rail cars to move the stuff, it doesn’t have the machinery to get the stuff, it doesn’t… you see the problem.

And here’s what’s happening. The demand in Canada is driving up the prices. Because people are so needful of replacing Russian material Canadians can raise the price for everyone, which means inflation for everyone.

The sanctioned program is creating supply-chain bottlenecks that are driving up inflation everywhere. Think about it the next time you hear someone, oh like President Trump. Remember, “trade wars are easy to win”. Not so quick. Yours against China didn’t win and this one is running into more and more problems. Its not so clear who’s the economic winner and loser on this one.”

 

The reason which governments give for wars are always screens, behind
which lie completely different reasons and motives.

Yanis Varoufakis: Is Capitalism Devouring Democracy?

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17 May 2018 In his address to the Cambridge Forum in Massachusetts, Economist and fierce EU critic Yanis Varoufakis considers the need for a radically new way of thinking about the economy, finance and capitalism.

Twitter Killing Free Speech Through Censorship: Case in Point….

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wounded_twitter
Clip source: Original text

Twitter Wars—My Personal Experience in Twitter’s Ongoing Assault on Free Speech – Consortium News

At some point, the U.S. people, and those they elect to higher office need to bring Twitter in line with the ideals and values Americans collectively espouse when it comes to free speech and online identity protection.
(Cathy Vogan/Consortium News)
Special to Consortium News

Monday, April 4, 2022: It was, from my point of view, just another day in the life of @RealScottRitter—my Twitter “handle.” I had a phone call scheduled with the editor of a publication I write for where we would discuss topics for a weekly column I was responsible for. I was also under deadline for another article I was writing for a second outlet that published my work, and was preparing a pitch to a third platform for another article. Such is the lot of a freelance writer—it is literally publish or perish.

Part of my routine is to watch the news and keep up to speed on breaking events. This usually involves sitting in an overstuffed arm chair surfing news channels using a remote while simultaneously monitoring the various news feeds and social media applications on my smart phone. On this morning I was monitoring the breaking news out of the Ukrainian town of Bucha, north of Kiev, where the bodies of civilians had been discovered strewn along a major thoroughfare.

The Ukrainian government was blaming the Russian troops, while the Russian leadership blamed Ukraine. As usual, getting to the bottom of an issue like this from my vantage point thousands of miles distant from the literal scene of the crime was a mission impossible.

On the television screen before me, the President of the United States was making a live appearance, where he addressed the Bucha killings. “You may remember I got criticized for calling Putin a war criminal,” Biden told the gathered reporters. “Well, the truth of the matter,” he continued, “you saw what happened in Bucha. This warrants him [Russian President Vladimir Putin]—he is a war criminal.”

Biden went on to declare that his administration was gathering evidence for a possible war crimes trial. “We have to gather all the details so this can be an actual—have a war crimes trial,” Biden said. “This guy is brutal, and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous, and everyone’s seen it.”

I had just finished an article for Russia Today (RT) on the Bucha incident, and had assembled what I believed to be the available data regarding what had transpired on the ground there. As such, Biden’s words took me by surprise.

The available data coming out of Bucha was ultimately inconclusive but, if anything, strongly suggested Ukrainian culpability, not Russian. The certainty expressed by the President led me to believe that he was privy to classified information otherwise unavailable to the general public.

My curiosity was piqued as much as my ego was pickled—RT had published my article, and now it looked like I might be in the uncomfortable position of having to withdraw my conclusions and correct the record. That, however, was the price of credibility—if you are wrong, say so, correct the mistake, and move on.

Shortly after Biden spoke, however, my cellphone alerted me to a Reuters article with a headline proclaiming, “Pentagon can’t independently confirm atrocities in Ukraine’s Bucha, official says.” The article quoted an unnamed “senior defense official”, speaking on condition of anonymity, that “the Pentagon can’t independently and single handedly confirm that, but we’re also not in any position to refute those claims.”

I turned off the television, and proceeded to spend the next 40 or so minutes researching the available information about the Bucha incident. One of the leading news stories was a New York Times report based upon commercially available imagery which the authors of the article, Malachy Browne, David Botti and Haley Willis, claimed was taken on March 19, 2022, putting a lie to Russian claims that when its troops pulled out of Bucha on March 30, no bodies were present.

However, when I examined the video and still photographs of the Bucha bodies, I was struck by the fact that they didn’t appear to have been left in the street to decompose for two weeks (the bodies were “discovered” by the Ukrainian National Police on April 2.) Bluntly speaking, bodies begin to bloat some 3-5 days after death, often doubling in size. They will remain this way for up to ten days, before they burst, spilling a puddle of putrid liquid into the ground around the corpse.

In comparing The New York Times’ image with the video of the bodies on the ground, I was struck by a scene in the movie My Cousin Vinny, where Vincent Gambini, a streetwise New York lawyer played by Joe Pesci, cross examined a witness on the issue of the preparation of Grits. “Are we to believe that boiling water soaks into a grit faster in your kitchen than on any place on the face of the earth? Well perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist on your stove!”

All I could do is stare at the satellite image and the bodies and wonder if the esteemed journalists of The New York Times expected their audience to suspend belief for a moment and accept that the laws of biology that govern the decomposition of human remains were suspended in Bucha.

The available evidence that could be extracted from the images from Bucha showed bodies that by appearance appeared to have been killed within 24-36 hours of their discovery—meaning that they were killed after the Russians withdrew from Bucha. The exact time of death, however, could only be determined after a thorough forensic medical examination.

Many of the bodies had white cloth strips tied to their upper arm, a visual designation which indicated either loyalty to Russia or that the persons did not pose a threat to Russians. The bodies that lacked this white cloth often had their hands tied behind their backs with white cloth that appeared similar to that which marked the arms of the other bodies.

Near to many of the bodies were the green cardboard box adorned with a white star which contained Russian military dry rations that had been distributed to the civilian population of Bucha by Russian troops as part of their humanitarian operations.

In short, the evidence suggested that the bodies were of civilians friendly to, or sympathetic with, Russia. It would take a leap of faith to conclude that Russian troops gunned these unfortunate souls down in cold blood, as alleged by the Ukrainian government.

Victims in Bucha. (Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Development Mikhail Fedorov/Wikimedia Commons)

On April 2, an article appeared in an official Ukrainian government website, LB.ua, entitled “Special forces regiment ‘SAFARI’ began to clear Bucha of saboteurs and accomplices of Russia.” According to the article, “Special forces began clearing the liberated, by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, city of Bucha of the Kiev region from saboteurs and accomplices of Russian troops.” According to the article, the Safari Regiment was comprised of personnel from various special police units, including the Rapid Operational Response Unit and the Tactical Operational Response Police.

There was other information—a video where a Ukrainian official warns the citizens of Bucha that on April 1 a “cleansing operation” was going to be conducted in Bucha, and that the citizens should remain indoors and not to panic. Another video, also from April 1, purported to show members of the Safari Regiment shooting civilians who were not wearing the blue distinguishing armbands signifying loyalty to the Ukrainian cause.

A Tweet

By the evening of April 5, I believed I had more than enough information to try and put forth a counter-narrative to the one being pushed by The New York Times and President Biden, namely that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for the Bucha killings.

“The Ukrainian National Police,” I composed on Twitter, “committed numerous crimes against humanity in Bucha.” Drawing on the precedent of the Nuremburg International Military Tribunal established at the end of the Second World War to prosecute Nazi war criminals, I then went on to state that “Biden, in seeking to shift blame for the Bucha murders onto Russia, is guilty of aiding and abetting these crimes. Congratulations, America…we’ve created yet another Presidential war criminal!”

At 9:42 p.m. I hit “send,” and the deed was done.

As far as Twitter metrics go, this tweet didn’t do so badly—5,976 “likes”, 2,815 retweets, and 321 comments, for a total of what Twitter calls 265,098 “impressions.”

It also got me suspended from Twitter.

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The next day, April 6, at 11:57 a.m., I received an email from Twitter Support, notifying me that my account, @RealScottRitter, “had been suspended for violating Twitter Rules,” specifically for violating rules against abuse and harassment. “You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone or incite other people to do so. This includes wishing or hoping that someone experiences physical harm.”

I re-read the tweet in question, wondering how anyone could possibly interpret its contents as violating the rules cited by Twitter Support. Who had I harassed or incited others to harass? I followed the procedures to appeal the suspension and went on with my daily routine—minus the part where I interact with the people I follow, and those who followed me, on Twitter.

My suspension caught the eye of several people who follow my tweeting activity. Several of these people reached out to inquire as to what happened and were as confused as I was over the grounds cited by Twitter for the suspension.

The end result of this was a very heart-warming grass-roots protest against the Twitter decision to suspend my account of such intensity, that one had to believe it caught the eye of one of the Twitter bureaucrats tasked with monitoring the temperature in Twitterdom. On April 6, at 11:54 p.m., I received an email from Twitter Support notifying me that “After further review, we have unsuspended your account as it does not appear to be in violation of the Twitter Rules.”

Life, it seemed, could return to normal, with me safely ensconced in my overstuffed arm chair, frantically working the controls to the television remote while monitoring my all-important, and recently restored, Twitter account.

Nothing good, however, lasts forever.

I went to sleep on Saturday night, April 9, content that all was well in the world. I woke up to find yet another email from Twitter Support notifying me that my Twitter account had, yet again, been suspended. The offending tweet this time pre-dated the original alleged rule-breaker by three days.

On April 3, sometime prior to 7:16 p,m., Matt Gallagher, an Iraq War veteran-turned author who uses the Twitter handle @MattGallagher0, had tweeted out a tweet that has since been deleted. I took umbrage at Gallagher’s remarks and tweeted the following reply:

“The Marines [murdered] more Iraqis in Haditha than the Russians killed Ukrainians in Bucha, for the simple fact that Haditha wasn’t a case of false flag mass murder. Bucha, on the other hand…”

Once again, I was accused of violating Twitter’s rules against abuse and harassment.

I repeated the appeals process, spelling out my position in detail. “The tweet you have singled out,” I wrote, “is a response to a tweet that has since been deleted by its author, so it is difficult to put it into its full context.”

My understanding of the now deleted tweet is that its author, @mattgallagher0, made the argument that the U.S. had not engaged in acts of violence against civilians similar to what Russia had been accused of in Bucha. My response, which you have flagged for suspension, pointed out, factually, that the U.S. Marine Corps had actually murdered more innocent civilians in Haditha (my tweet inadvertently left out the word ‘murdered’). I then pointed out that the Haditha case had actually been prosecuted, meaning it wasn’t a false flag incident.

I then reiterated my long-standing position that Bucha was a false-flag event where the Ukrainian National Police carried out the murder of Ukrainian civilians and that the blame for these deaths is being wrongly transferred onto Russia (i.e., a ‘false flag’).

This tweet is fact based, expressing a point of view derived from a consistent fact set, and in no way constitutes harassment or abuse. Likewise, this tweet does not wish or hope that anyone experiences physical harm. No rules have been broken. Please restore my account to its full capacity as soon as possible.

Twitter Support replied to my appeal, noting that “it looks like this is connected with your original case, so we’ve added it to that first report. We’ll continue our review with this information. If you have more details you think we should know, please respond to this email to send them our way. We appreciate your help!”

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Concepts of Free Speech

I was flummoxed, to say the least. I fired off a reply to Twitter Support. “Just a reminder,” I wrote,

“that you decided in my favor in the original case, and lifted the suspension imposed then. How this can be a continuation of an already resolved issue is disconcerting, to say the least. Please lift this current suspension, since no rules have been violated, and fix whatever issue within your system, whether human or algorithm, which flags my tweets on the basis of somehow being connected to a past case that had been resolved in my favor.”

The silencing of any voice, let alone one which had gained a semblance of traction in the national debate about the war in Ukraine (one of my threads assessing Russian military operations had gone viral, amassing some 1,639,386 “impressions”), should be a disturbing event for all those who claim to respect the concepts of free speech enshrined by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

U.S. courts have often struggled to determine what exactly constitutes protected speech when it comes to social media platforms such as Twitter. A recent case, Knight First Amendment Institute v. Donald J. Trump, has argued that Twitter’s actions in blocking an account represent a violation of the First Amendment, which on the face of it, seems like a legally questionable assertion, given that the First Amendment only protects free speech from government infringement.

The argument in support of this position holds that Twitter is essentially a state actor, and as such bound by the First Amendment. According to this line of thinking, a private corporation can be classified as a state actor if it has been working with the government, either from collusion or coercion, to accomplish the state’s agenda.

Such an exception is important because it stops the government from simply using private businesses to accomplish otherwise unconstitutional goals. Indeed, in Norwood v. Harrison (1973), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the government “may not induce, encourage, or promote private persons to accomplish what it is constitutionally forbidden to accomplish.”

The extent to which Twitter qualifies as a state actor has not been fully tested in the U.S. court system. A key element to any such consideration would be the degree to which the various congressional hearings, which have been convened for the purpose of chastising the CEO’s of social media companies including Twitter for allowing disinformation to be posted in forums they control, is congressional pressure that, it can be argued, rises to the level of inducement to violate speech otherwise protected by the First Amendment.

If Twitter is found to be acting as a de facto “state actor”, then, under the First Amendment, it may not exclude speech or speakers from the [public] forum on the basis of viewpoint, a point driven home by the Supreme Court in its decision in Hartman v. Moore (2006), which affirms that “the First Amendment prohibits government officials from subjecting an individual to retaliatory actions…for speaking out.”

The bottom line is that Twitter’s suspension of my account on the basis of activity Twitter itself has determined did not violate its rules, runs dangerously afoul of First Amendment free speech protections.

Fake Scott Ritter


It would be one thing if Twitter stopped at simply trampling my First Amendments rights. But the icing on the cake, so to speak, regarding the insanity that is the brain-dead world of Twitter policy, was revealed to me when, on April 12, I was approached by people on another social media platform noted for its ability to censor free speech—Facebook/Meta—who asked me if I was back on Twitter. “Hi Scott,” this person asked. “Are you on Twitter? If so, what exact name/moniker is it? I got people who follow your work asking.”

I responded by noting that “I’m currently banned, awaiting resolution of an appeal. But when I’m not banned, my Twitter is @RealScott Ritter.”

This individual wrote back. “Scott, it appears there is a new account using your name…I have a friend checking it out and says there are followers gaining fast.”

I investigated the issue, and sure enough, there it was: @NewScottRitter. Same profile set up, same photographs—the cover art for my new book, Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika, and the iconic image of U.S. inspectors posing with the U.S. flag outside the gate of a Soviet missile factory in Votkinsk.

“Scott Ritter—new account for @RealScottRitter,” it proclaimed. “Banned from Twitter for speaking the truth Formerly @RealScottRitter.”

Joined in April 2022, the page noted, and already had 5,394 followers (as of Wednesday morning).

I knew it was fake. I joined in July 2018, and it took me three years to accumulate 4,000 followers.

A quick review of the Twitter content made it clear that this was no parody account, and that someone was using my name and identity to promulgate policy issues, such as Hunter Biden’s laptop, that I assiduously avoid.

I reached out to Twitter through their online help platform, where I filed a complaint about someone impersonating me. “My account, @RealScottRitter”, I wrote, “is currently suspended. I have appealed this suspension. I have been informed by others that a new account, @NewScottRitter, has emerged, pretending to be me. It is not, and should be removed from Twitter as soon as possible.”

As a parting shot to the insanity of my current suspension, I closed with, “The sooner you lift the unjustified suspension of my account, the less opportunity will exist to impersonate me on your platform.”

Twitter responded in short order, asking me to verify that I was, in fact, Scott Ritter. To do this, I had to provide an image of a government issued photo identification. Twitter got my current New York driver’s license, which still uses the photograph from my first New York State driver’s license, issued back in 1992.

The 1990’s haircut and oversized eyewear notwithstanding, Twitter seemed to accept my submission as de facto proof that I was, indeed, the real Scott Ritter. I waited for justice to prevail, and the fake New Scott Ritter to be unceremoniously kicked off Twitter for impersonating me.

It was not to be.

Twitter replied, having taken all of one hour to review this issue (my suspension, by way of comparison, was closing in on its 96th hour of review.)

“We have an update about @NewScottRitter,” the email from Twitter Support announced, providing me with the case number. “We investigated the reported account,” the email read, “and determined it is not in violation of Twitter’s misleading and deceptive identities policy.”

My jaw literally hit the floor.

“In order for an account to be in violation of the policy,” the email continued, “it must portray another person or business in a misleading or deceptive matter. For more information, please make sure to read and understand our full policy.”

I dutifully clicked the link provided by Twitter, and was taken to a page that read “Misleading & Deceptive Identities.”

“You may not,” the page started, “impersonate individuals, groups, or organizations to mislead, confuse, or deceive others, nor use a fake identity in a manner that disrupts the experience of others on Twitter.”


I may be a simple Marine, but @NewScottRitter literally starts off by proclaiming “I’m back on Twitter!” Who, if not the real Scott Ritter, was the new Scott Ritter purporting to be? There is no other way to read “I’m”, literally “I am”, to mean anything other than “I”, meaning “me.”

“We want Twitter to be a place where people can find authentic voices,” the policy continues. How nice. “That means one should be able to trust that the person or organization featured in an account’s profile genuinely represents the account owner. While you are not required to display your real name or image on your profile, your account should not engage in impersonation or pose as someone who doesn’t exist in order to deceive others.”

News flash, Twitter Support: @NewScottRitter is using my name and image to deceive over 5,000 people that “he” is “me.” If that doesn’t fit the definition of “impersonation,” nothing does.

“Accounts that use deceptive identities can create confusion, as well as undermine the integrity of conversations on Twitter.”

You mean like when I have people contacting me on Facebook/Meta to find out if the person their friend is interacting on Twitter is really me?

“For this reason, you may not misappropriate the identity of another person, group, or organization, or create a fake identity for deceptive purposes.”

Unless, of course, you’re misappropriating the identity of Scott Ritter. Then it’s fair game.

Twitter Support then went on to explain what it defines as a “misleading or deceptive identity.”

“One of the main elements of an identity on Twitter is an account’s profile, which includes a username (@handle), account name, profile image, and bio.”

For example, @RealScottRitter uses my real name, a profile image of a real book I really authored accompanied by a real photograph of the real me with real inspectors outside a real Soviet missile factory holding a real U.S. flag, backed up by a real bio that informed the reader that I was a “former United Nations Weapons Inspector, former Marine Corps Intelligence Officer, author, and analyst.”

“An account’s identity is deceptive under this policy,” Twitter Support notes, “if it uses false profile information to represent itself as a person or entity that is not associated with the account owner, such that it may mislead others who use Twitter. Deceptive identities may feature the likeness of another person or organization in a manner which confuses others about the account affiliation.”

When Twitter suspended me, I was put on notice that any effort to bypass the suspension by creating a new account was prohibited. I made it clear to Twitter that I was currently serving a suspension under appeal. As such, one would think that, when I declared that the account @NewScottRitter was not in any way, shape, or form affiliated with me, the real Scott Ritter, that it was, by definition, using “false profile information to represent itself as a person or entity that is not associated with the account owner.”

The fact is that people out in Twitterdom who had followed me when I was able to tweet under my actual account were, in fact, confused by the existence of this fake account.

Twitter’s rules are very specific about what sort of behavior is prohibited under its rules regarding “Misleading & Deceptive Identities.” For instance: “You can’t pose as an existing person, group, or organization in a confusing or deceptive manner.”

You can’t use “stolen profile pictures”, particularly those depicting other people. This, apparently, is a big no-no in Twitterdom. “One of the main factors in our review,” Twitter Support proclaims, “is whether a profile uses an image that depicts another person or entity.”

For instance, a picture of a book cover with the name “Scott Ritter” emblazoned on it, or a picture of a group photo where Scott Ritter features prominently. “If we find evidence that demonstrates an unauthorized use of an other’s image (such as from a valid report from the individual or organization depicted), we will then assess whether the profile image is used in a misleading or deceptive manner.”

Twitter Support then describes the next step—determining whether the account is intended to deceive others. “We are most likely to take action if an account falsely claims to be the entity portrayed in the profile photo.”

A quick review of @NewScottRitter has the fake me claiming to be the real me by using my stolen profile images and then declaring “I’m back” after being “Banned from Twitter for speaking the truth.”

Twitter allows exceptions to its policy if the profile in question contains “context that indicates the account is not affiliated with the subject of the profile image, as with parody, commentary, or fan accounts.”

A cursory review of @NewScottRitter contains nothing that would remotely fit this description. According to Twitter’s own rules, the account @NewScottRitter represents a flagrant violation of its “Misleading & Deceptive Identities” policies.

Unless, of course, the account you are seeking to deceive others about belongs to the real Scott Ritter.

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I reside in the State of New York. In 2008, New York amended its Internet impersonation law (section 190.25 of the Penal Law) by adding Subdivision 4, making it a crime to impersonate another person by electronic means, including through use of a website, with the intent to obtain a benefit or injure or defraud another person.Internet impersonation, it turns out, is a Class A misdemeanor which carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and a one-year term of imprisonment for each violation or act of impersonation. According to the law firm of Hunton, Andrews, Kurth, the law covers “social networking sites … that make it easy to upload someone else’s photo and pretend to be that person.” The law is designed to deter cases of “misrepresenting oneself through the use of the Internet.”

I’m not a lawyer, I don’t play one on television, and I didn’t spend the night at a Holiday Inn Express, so my legal opinion is worth less than the paper it would be written on. Having said that, I believe someone who impersonates through deception for purposes not directly related to parody or commentary can be found to have engaged in behavior which has the real potential to injure or defraud another person.How one defines injury from a legal perspective is a job best left to lawyers, but I would imagine that issues such as reputation and financial harm would qualify. How do you gauge reputation online? I don’t really know.

What I do know is that I have done my best to be assiduous with the facts when it comes to tweeting about issues of importance, especially when those issues fall under the umbrella of topics that my life’s experience lends some credibility to when commenting on them—arms control, military affairs, Russian and Middle Eastern relations, intelligence, and national security. One metric which is popularly used to measure the impact, or “clout,” of a given account is the number of followers one attracts.

Building a “following” was never on my mind when engaging on Twitter—it just happened. I do my best to interact responsibly with the people I follow, and with those who follow me. Twitter, like most social media platforms, has an addictive quality that lends itself to becoming an integral part of one’s daily routine—check your twitter account, see what’s happening and, if the topic lends itself to it, participate in the on-line conversation by contributing tweets of your own. I would also post articles I had written that were published on other platforms, as well as links to interviews I had given.

Why Go on Twitter?

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Twitter’s original headquarters, San Francisco. (Caroline Culler User:Wgreaves/Wikimedia Commons)

One of my reasons for joining Twitter was to contribute to the overall process of engaging in responsible debate, dialogue, and discussion about issues of importance in my life and the lives of others, in order to empower people with knowledge and information they might not otherwise have access to, so that those who participate in such interaction, myself included, could hold those whom we elect to higher office accountable for what they do in our name.

To me, such an exercise is the essence of democracy and, for better or for worse, Twitter had become the primary social media platform I used to engage in this activity.

From my perspective, credibility is the key to a good Twitter relationship. I follow experts on a variety of topics because I view them as genuine specialists in their respective fields (I also follow several dog and cat accounts because, frankly speaking, dogs and cats make me laugh.) People follow me, I assume, for similar reasons. Often I find myself in in-depth exchanges with people who follow me, or people I follow, where reasoned fact-based discourse proves beneficial to both parties, as well as to those who are following the dialogue.

Before my Twitter account was suspended, I had close to 95,000 “followers.” I’d like to believe that the majority of these followed me because of the integrity and expertise I brought to the discussion.

Having someone hijack my identity and seek to resurrect my suspended account by appealing to those who had previously followed me can only be damaging to whatever “brand” I had possessed that managed to attract a following that was pushing 100,000. When one speaks of injury, one cannot ignore the fact that reputations can be injured just as much as the physical body.

Indeed, while a body can heal itself, reputations cannot. The fact that Twitter has facilitated the wrongful impersonation of me and my Twitter account makes it a party to whatever damage has been accrued due to this activity.

A Law Unto Itself

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It is not as though Twitter can, or ever will, be held accountable for such actions. Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934, enacted as part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA), holds that internet platforms that host third-party content — think of tweets on Twitter—are not (with few exceptions) liable for what those third parties post or do.Like the issue of Freedom of Speech, the concept of holding Twitter accountable for facilitating the fraudulent misappropriation of a Twitter user’s online identity is a legal bridge too far. Twitter, it seems, is a law unto itself.

My Twitter War came to an end today when I received an email from Twitter Support proclaiming that “Your account has been suspended and will not be restored because it was found to be violating the Twitter Terms of Service, specifically the Twitter Rules against participating in targeted abuse,” adding that “In order to ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs on our platform, we do not tolerate abusive behavior. This includes inciting other people to engage in the targeted harassment of someone.”

This ruling, it seems, is not appealable.

At some point in time, the U.S. people, and those they  elect to higher office to represent their interests, need to bring Twitter in line with the ideals and values Americans collectively espouse when it comes to issues like free speech and online identity protection.

If Twitter is to be absolved of any responsibility for the content of ideas expressed on its platform, then it should be treated as a free speech empowerment zone and prohibited from interfering with speech that otherwise would be protected by law.

The U.S. Constitution assumes that society will govern itself when deciding the weight that should be put behind the words expressed by its citizens. Thus, in a nation that has outlawed slavery and racial discrimination, organizations like the Klu Klux Klan are allowed to demonstrate and give voice to their odious ideology.

America is a literal battlefield of ideas, and society is better for it. Giving voice to hateful thought allows society to rally against it and ultimately defeat it by confronting it and destroying it through the power of informed debate, discussion, and dialogue; censoring hateful speech does not defeat it, but rather drives it underground, where it can fester and grow in the alternative universe created because of censorship.

In many ways, my Twitter Wars represent a struggle for the future of America. If Twitter and other social media platforms are permitted to operate in a manner that does not reflect the ideals and values of the nation, and yet is permitted to mainstream itself so that the platform controls the manner in which the American people interact when it comes to consuming information and ideas, then the nation will lose touch with what it stands for, including the basic precepts of freedom of speech that define us as a people.

Mainstreaming censorship is never a good idea, and yet by giving Twitter a free hand to do just that, the American people are sowing the seeds of their own demise.

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff’s keynote speech on US-China relations

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Clip source: Dilma Rousseff&apos

Dilma Rousseff’s keynote speech on US-China relations and their impact on Latin America

We are pleased and honored to present the English translation of Dilma Rousseff’s keynote speech at our recent webinar, 21st Century Socialism: China and Latin America on the Frontline. Dilma Rousseff, former President of Brazil, provides a detailed analysis of the New Cold War and the current state of US-China relations, comparing and contrasting the US neoliberal model with China’s people-centered model of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics. President Dilma reiterates the need for Brazil to integrate with the rest of Latin America, to break its dependency on the US, to develop a truly sovereign foreign policy, and work closely with China – a country which is increasingly leading in new technology and which is willing to work with other countries on the basis of equality.
Brazil during the Workers Party governments always had a position of absolute independence with regard to its relations with all other countries. And it prioritized its strategic relation with the BRICS countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Now we find ourselves in an international framework of conflict.
Since the financial crisis in 2008, friction between China and the United States has grown. Such frictions, which emerged during the Obama administration with the Trans Pacific Partnership (which was an attempt to counter China), became more aggressive during the Trump administration. After the Biden administration took office, China-US relations, while more “diplomatic” in appearance, became even more conflictual.
When comparing China and the US in their COVID response, economic recovery, education, science and technology, domestic governance and global governance, it seems fair to say that the balanceof competition is increasingly tilting towards China.
In the response to COVID, the disappointing result in the US contrasts sharply with the situation in China, which has had greater control over the spread of the virus, reducing the number of infections and deaths. The US government, on the other hand, has failed to reduce the deadly effects of the disease in the country. China has also actively participated in international cooperation, supporting the COVAX Facility and the World Health Organization (WHO), proposing to make COVID vaccines a global public good, and providing vaccines and PPE to other countries. These movements evidenced China’s growing “soft power”.
In terms of economic recovery and development, the US was also overshadowed by China. The year 2020 saw a 27.4% increase in China’s trade surplus over the previous year, an increase in its foreign exchange reserves and a 2.3% increase in its GDP, a stark contrast to the 4% contraction and 10% from the US and EU respectively.
At the present time, China’s neutral and considered position regarding the conflict in Ukraine, in defense of peace, respecting the sovereignty of countries and registering a strong critique of NATO’s contribution to the war, contrasts with the warmongering position of the US and EU.
In the early 1990s, when the Cold War ended, China’s and the United States’ share of GDP in the world economy was 3.86% and 20.6%, respectively. By 2018, the US share was reduced to 15%, while that of China rose to 18.6% in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. China’s economic size is likely to surpass that of the US by 2030. The US has suffered severe losses through its deindustrialization and financialization. Meanwhile China has become a kind of factory of the world, with a huge capacity for carrying out a fourth industrial revolution. And it has surprised the world by reaching, on schedule, the goal of achieving a “moderately prosperous economy”, lifting 600 million people out of absolute poverty. And this in spite of COVID-19.
In the area of education, the gap between the two countries is rapidly decreasing. The United States remains a reference in basic science, due to its excellent research institutions, led by national state-led laboratories and also its large private universities. Still, US investment in these fields has been reduced by almost half compared to the Reagan-era investment.
Only 5% of college students in the US are studying engineering, while the number in China is about a third. Education, by the way, has always played a prominent role in Chinese civilization over the centuries, and science, technological development and innovation are considered key factors by the CPC in achieving socialist modernization by 2035 and 2049. China’s educational effort in recent decades has been equaling and even surpassing the United States in areas critical to scientific innovation, including engineering, computer science, and mathematics. The number of scientists and engineers produced by China is six times that of the US, surpassing the combined number for the US, EU, Japan and UK. The number of PhDs in China in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is double that of the US.
In high-tech areas, competition is fierce. China is doing very well in Artificial Intelligence (AI), 5G, internet of things, smart cities, digital currency and cryptography. China’s response to COVID shows the power of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, represented by big data and AI. China and the US are major competitors in quantum computing, an area considered the Holy Grail of the 21st century.
When it comes to domestic governance, China has shown extraordinary progress and advantages. The fourth scientific and technological revolution, characterized by the great leap of AI, the internet of things and ICT, will increasingly impact all activities, increasing productivity. China is also accelerating its policy towards a society where equity prevails, while in capitalist countries, including the US, per capita income has flattened and jobs have stagnated or shrunk. Social wealth is rapidly becoming concentrated and the richest 1% is getting even richer. China is doing precisely the opposite.
In terms of global governance, the international order, put in place after World War II under US leadership and consolidated when US dominance was unchallenged, is now being shaken. Developing countries, which account for more than 50% of global GDP, are underrepresented in major international organizations such as the IMF and World Bank. The BRICS and the G20 were initiatives that sought to reduce this unfair asymmetry. Compared to the US, China has been more respectful of the role played by international organizations such as the WTO and WHO, and international agreements including the Paris Agreement – which is ironic.
The Trump administration led the US to distance itself from these international institutions. The Biden administration is trying a damage-management policy, but it is not likely that it will be entirely remedied.

Consequences of prejudice and the US’s containment policy in China

Until now, US prejudice towards China has been based on erroneous concepts. The most important is that China’s development could not be sustained because the political system centered on the Communist Party of China would be an insurmountable obstacle to its development. According to this reading, no country could develop without fully embracing a market economy and the system of liberal democracy. The problem is that the Communist Party of China is nothing like the bureaucratic and rigid Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and today is the leading force providing an impulse for the extraordinary development of the country, its people and its civilization.
In fact, contrary to what American elites expected, the 2008 global financial crisis did not occur in China. Instead, it broke out in western countries. It was this fact that changed the mindset of sectors of the deep state. Faced with the evidence, they concluded that China’s rise must be contained or slowed down, otherwise US dominance would be at stake. This containment policy, which intensifies conflicts, has proved to be extremely flawed and harmful to everyone.
First, any rational strategist is well aware that the consequences of an all-out war between China and the US are unthinkable. It is worth noting that there is no more significant geopolitical phenomenon today than the growing strategic partnership between China and Russia. Ironically, it is precisely the maximum US pressure on Russia and the containment of China that played a key role in bringing the two countries closer together. The economic sanctions stemming from Russia’s annexation of Crimea and, now, from the war in Ukraine, are strengthening a new geopolitical pole, and accelerating changes that otherwise would have occurred much slower.
Second, in the financial sector, US dollar hegemony faces new challenges. As a global currency, the US dollar holds an irreplaceable position in international trade and payments. This has made the dollar a weapon of retaliation and a tool of extortion against other countries. Here in Latin America we have two terrible examples: 60 years of blockade against Cuba, and now more recently, the blockade on Venezuela during a pandemic. The US government has been imposing far-reaching sanctions on foreign banks and companies that do business, against the US’s wishes, with countries like Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and now Russia. They use their national jurisdiction as an international weapon of coercion. Given this, and taking into account recent geopolitical events, it is unlikely that the dollar will remain irreplaceable forever.
Dollar hegemony is centered on SWIFT (the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), whose mission is to enable the flow of funds between countries, banks and companies. Major countries, including China, are still unable to bypass this dollar-based transfer mechanism. In 2015, China began testing an interbank transfer model called the Cross-Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS), which could be considered a new alternative to SWIFT, and this is now being accelerated. They believe that what would have taken 10 to 15 years will now take more like two to three years, as a result of the sanctions imposed in relation to the war in Ukraine.
Like several other central banks, the People’s Bank of China has been developing and testing digital currencies for over the last five years. China’s sovereign digital currency, or digital RMB, is rapidly advancing and can be used in China’s domestic market, as well as for foreign trade and investment. Recently, payment with yuan has been accepted by both Russia and Saudi Arabia as payment for oil.
Third, the US strategy of containing China based on so-called “decoupling” is absurd, because it will disconnect the US itself from the rest of the world in the face of the complex web of economic relations that involve the two countries and the hubs and supply chains in which China participates. In 2019, around 100 countries around the world traded and invested more with China than the US, and that number is still growing. In Latin America, China is the biggest investor, with Spain and the US in second and third place respectively.
Despite pressure from “decoupling”, China pushed forward the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in November 2020. The agreement, which took effect on the first day of 2022, is seen as a testament to China’s growing regional influence. RCEP members represent a third of the world’s population and 29% of the world economy, even larger than the EU.
The great complementarity between China, its economic and trade partners and the US itself has been the main obstacle to decoupling them. As such, the efficacy of decoupling is highly questionable.
Fourth,the US has launched a technological containment policy on China based on the “5G dispute”. We all know that Huawei has the best 5G technology, in terms both of efficacy and cost, and because it can run on 4G platforms. The assessment of all Western analysts is that whoever is in the vanguard of 5G adoption will have a significant head start in developing the most modern productive forces. As China is the most advanced country in this area, we expect China will be reaping the fruits. Hence the US targeting of Huawei.
The US blockade of China in the field of semiconductors, the so-called “chip war”, is part of the “technological mismatch”. With the aim of undermining China’s technological innovation capabilities, the strategy has a major impact that cannot be underestimated. But the challenge should not be considered as insurmountable. In response, China has been striving to meet its demand for semiconductors by locating and expanding foreign cooperation and investing heavily in the field. China has a whole long-term strategy of industrial advancement, referred to as Made in China 2025, focusing on critical elements of modern technology.
Fifth, China announced the promotion of a new development paradigm based on the interaction between domestic dynamics – industrial and technological consumption and investment – and international dynamics – exports, New Silk Road, financial expansion. Together these constitute a powerful force to boost modern Chinese socialism, and they propose to the rest of the world what the CPC calls “shared development.” This development is very important for Latin America.

China-US competition, a two-system rivalry

Neoliberalism, which emerged during the Reagan administration, laid the foundations for the decline of the US. The financialization of the economy as a result of neoliberalism is the culprit that kills the dynamism of the capitalist system itself. Credit and finance gradually became obstacles rather than driving forces of production. The pursuit of small government, uncontrolled labor market liberalization and the pursuit of profit led to a rapid accumulation of financial wealth for those at the top of the social pyramid while de-industrializing the economy. Companies want to make money quickly, on a very short-term horizon, which is incompatible with R&D activity. So the US asks other countries, such as those of Latin America, not to use Chinese 5G technology, even if they don’t have alternatives of their own to offer – not because they don’t have technology companies but because these companies only operate on the basis of a short-term strategy.
The three consequences of neoliberalism, namely the financialization of the economy, rising wealth inequality, and the erosion of democracy, are prevalent in all capitalist countries. Even though it is the richest country with the greatest military power and technological capability, the US is no exception.
China’s strength lies exactly in the opposite path: its pursuit of socialism with Chinese characteristics. This path follows the law of the market, but attaches strategic importance to the role of the state. While open to domestic and foreign private investment, China has been increasingly active in controlling distortions created by oligopoly and speculation. The regulation of economic activity acts to preserve competition and avoid financial bubbles and market distortions, as was clear in the suspension of the IPO of Ant Financial Services; and in the stricter control over the real estate market and the control of tutoring services, which had been creating inequality.
So we have this conflict which is becoming very well defined. China is moving towards leading the fourth industrial and technological revolution worldwide, particularly via the Belt and Road Initiative. This is transitioning from being based almost exclusively on infrastructure to being centered around advanced industrial and technological partnerships. That is exactly what interests us here in Latin America. For us in Latin America, China has already surpassed the US in terms of economic relations.
In a world where changes are accelerating, Latin America has to face its own challenges and needs to leave behind commoditization and deindustrialization. It must develop a reindustrialization with new characteristics. Its participation in the Fourth Industrial and Technological Revolution cannot be simply as a consumer of the products of platform capitalism – ifoods, uber, Airbnb, etc – without technological and industrial capacity in AI, robotic industries, remote medicine, smart cities, etc. We cannot accept such a division. Whoever remains as a mere importer of these technologies and innovations will remain on the periphery, subjugated to the interests of the US.
The transformation of the productive model is the main challenge for Latin Americans to recover a path that allows them to achieve considerable economic growth along with social justice. Solely producing and exporting mineral or agricultural commodities does not support equitable growth. Another model is needed for our region to reach high levels of industrialization and have a great capacity to add value to production based on the quality of education and work and scientific-technological innovation with the generation of better jobs.
I repeat, the ability to enter the fourth technological and industrial revolution is critically important for Latin American development. And this means we need to be alert to the conflict between the US and China.
From our standpoint, the true integration of Latin America is essential for projecting the continent’s strength based on the extraordinary relevance of its market, which today reaches almost 1 billion people. We can combine that with the potential of the fantastic natural resources of the region, such as oil, minerals, agricultural products and proteins, immense water reserves, etc, and seek the modernity of insertion in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Our progressive governments in Brazil and the region have made some key advances. We want to break with the Monroe Doctrine. We want Latin America to be for Latin Americans.
China has increased its presence throughout Latin America in the recent period, surpassing the US both as a trading partner and as a source of foreign direct investment. And more than that, China has established itself as an international reference point in the field of socialism; that is to say, as a country on the path to building a modern socialism.
Although China’s presence has grown here in Latin America, the conservative elites repeat with China the same pattern of commodity export and mineral extraction. China has been specializing in infrastructure projects, and this new phase, with the Belt and Road Initiative, based on technology and industrialization partnerships, will be fundamental to Latin America. We cannot keep reproducing the inferiority complex of our conservative elites and oligarchs, that are only willing to submit themselves to the interests of the US.
Latin America’s place is not with the US; Latin America’s place is the path of independence. This independence isn’t a matter of individual countries; it’s region-level independence, cooperating on an equal basis with China.
Unfortunately I am not able to stay for the entire panel, as we in Brazil have the possibility of re-electing President Lula, and my party is working very hard along with the other progressive parties. We will do everything we can to win this election, which is fundamental for the relationship between Latin America and China.

The Origins of Ukraine’s Fascists & Why It Matters, w/ Historian Tarik Cyril Amar

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For those who just discovered Ukraine two months ago, the fact that Ukrainian nationalism has been dangerously intertwined with fascism might sound like Russian propaganda. But is it?

How powerful is the Ukrainian far right? Are they really linked to Nazis? Why is the corporate-owned media denying this?

To place this war and the Ukrainian far right in its historical context, Rania Khalek was joined by Tarik Cyril Amar, a historian from Germany, who is currently associate professor of history at Koc University in Istanbul, working on Russian, Ukrainian, and generally East European history.

Why does the world condone an evil empire?

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evil empire

I must also say, I find it very disturbing that the US continues to get away with murder, literally. It can invade countries with impunity, fabricating evidence and reasons, it can kill millions of citizens of those countries, destroy the country while making millions more refugees, pillage the country’s assets, and then leave it when done. And it provides weapons and assistance for other friendly countries to do the same. It can apply economic sanctions, that rarely work, and illegally seize funds and assets.

Decade after decade – causing irreparable damage the world over. Why do we let it get away with this?

 

The world is a dangerous placenot because of those who do evilbut because of those who look on and do nothing.”

TV wants me to believe…

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TV
I’m beginning to think my TV wants me to hate Russia.
Not just a little, either. A lot.
I’m beginning to think my TV wants me to ignore Yemen
And to think Israel is always good. Always.
I think my TV wants me to believe that Julian Assange is not a journalist.
Why else would all the handsomely paid journalists on TV not rush to his aid?
I think my TV wants me to believe that anyone without a corporate media contract shouldn’t be able to express their views at all.
That it’s everyone else’s job just to parrot what they’ve heard.
I think they want me to believe that people shooting cars into space are going to save the environment.
That billionaires owning everything will be good for small businesses.
That voting for the slightly lesser evil is the highest good.
I think it wants me to believe we’re building back better by shipping weapons to Ukraine.
And that this is not a proxy war.
I think they want me to think that they would never lie to us
That they want what’s best for us.
I think they want us to believe Madeline Albright is a good role model for young girls
At least the ones that weren’t killed by the sanctions she supported.
I really think the TV wants us to believe there was nothing weird about Jeffrey Epstein’s death
Or Hunter Biden’s appointment to a Ukrainian energy company.
I think they are trying to make us believe Joe Biden isn’t having age-related cognitive issues
And that there is some actual substance to Kamala Harris.
I think they want us to believe that AOC is going to raise a ruckus
And that her dress was empowering to the working class.
I think the media wants us to believe that sometimes you have to risk a nuclear war
And that not all Nazis are bad.
I’m starting to think the TV wants me to believe that every expression of dissent is Russian propaganda
I’m starting to feel the TV doesn’t want me to think that China will be their next target.
I’m starting to think the TV doesn’t want me to think at all.
I think it wants me to believe that we need to be told what to think.
That war is peace and truth is lies
When necessary.
I think the media wants me to laugh or be outraged when it tells me to.
I’m beginning to suspect they want me to buy stuff
That it’ll make me happy.
That happiness is found in a pill or a car payment.
That love cannot be expressed without a diamond
That my six-year-old needs a smart phone.
I think they want me to buy my water in single-use plastic containers.
I think they want me to think all that plastic just disappears.
I think they want us to think that Ellen DeGeneres can be George Bush’s buddy and ours, too.
I think the talking heads want us to believe they can work for billionaires and still be on our side.
I think they want us to believe without ever giving us the facts we need to make up our own minds.
I think I shall resist another day.

 

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

Eric X. Li: A tale of two political systems

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Most electoral democracies around the world are suffering from dismal performance. I don’t need to elaborate for this audience how dysfunctional it is, from Washington to European capitals. With a few exceptions, the vast number of developing countries that have adopted electoral regimes are still suffering from poverty and civil strife. Governments get elected, and then they fall below 50 percent approval in a few months and stay there and get worse until the next election. Democracy is becoming a perpetual cycle of elect and regret. At this rate, I’m afraid, it is democracy, not China’s one-party system, that is in danger of losing legitimacy.

Let us draw to a close this era of meta-narratives. Communism and democracy may both be laudible ideals but the era of their dogmatic universalism is over. Let us stop telling people and our children there is only one way to govern ourselves in a singular future towards which all socities must evolve. It is wrong. It is irresponsible, and worst of all it is boring. Let universality make way for plurality. Perhaps a more interesting age is upon us. Are we brave enough to welcome it? Thank you.

I think we should get unstuck from the thinking that there is only one political system – election, election, election, that could make it responsive. I’m not sure, actually, elections produce responsive governments anymore in the world.

 

May you live in interesting times.

Trudeau’s Forever Emergency

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Tyrannical Tools Used By Dangerous Fools To Further Enslave Us All

This is scary stuff!

“Whilst Justin Trudeau has bowed to pressure and revoked the emergency powers he invoked just over a week ago, the Canadian government is now making financial aspects of the Emergencies Act permanent.”

Certain financial restrictions will be in place permanently.

Slippery financial movements happening that bring us closer to a kind of technocratic tyranny.

He went on to describe the events of what is happening in Canada “under the auspices of liberal democracy.” And it’s not being done through the people’s representatives but by executive decree.

Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland wants to make permanent the invasive financial surveillance system introduced as part of the “Emergencies Act” to crush the civil liberties protest. Freeland had announced the initial powers earlier this week to freeze the bank accounts of those who support the protests. This order covers both personal and corporate accounts.

“We determined we need additional tools.”

RB. This describes what a dictatorship is. What democracy? Whose “we”? What do you mean by determined?

Some of those tools we will be putting forward, measures to put those tools permanently in place.

Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland, said “some of these other tools, like the sharing of information between law enforcement and financial services, and their requirement of financial services to be reviewing their accounts proactively.”

The authorities of FINTRAC I believe do need to be expanded to cover crowd sourcing platforms.

Insurance on trucks that participate in these illegal occupations and blockades will be suspended.

RB. All right. We’re shutting you down from every angle. So those of you who have ever considered there were conspiracies between the government and financial industry and insurance is some kind of scam and that the government just looks for ways to create power and control, telling you all the time you’re free, you’re free to do as we tell you. Now you have a further piece of evidence. They shut down the insurance of the trucks, the shut down the funding of the protestors, they closed down the bank accounts of the people who support it. That may be many things but what it is not is liberal democracy.

RB. Tools can be used for good but tools can also be used for bad, says Russell Brand. I feel like what they’re recognizing is bloody hell this trucker movement that escalated fast and they can fund it using crowd fund platforms and they can communicate using social media. Oh no, all of our tools of surveillance and oppression are being used to create power for the people. Which by the way that’s what democracy is meant to mean. Populism isn’t a shameful thing. Populism means you are in charge of your life. And what they’re doing is. Oh, no, you jolly well don’t. This is where the old tools come in handy. Can you see the utility and plasticity of technology in this discourse emerging when technology can be used to create digital id and vaccine passports systems of monitoring and surveillance. Technology good two thumbs up. When technology is getting used to empower people, get people together to create new narratives, to fund opposition to the government to prevent what I would consider to be comparable to a kind of rolling tyranny technology bad, two thumbs down for technology now…. all they have to do in the future is label anyone they want being a threat to the ideals they’re setting out. The measures are there, ready, waiting. They’ve just armed themselves…. But when that is concomitant to the closure of and freezing of bank accounts, shutting down crowd funding, determining whether or not a protest is malign and judging it as such in order to foreclose it. That is literally the building blocks of tyranny. That’s what it would look like now. That’s a misuse of power.

RB. “What is most notable, though, is that this alleged criminality is not adjudicated through judicial proceedings, no judicial proceedings, forget democracy, forget justice. These are like literal pillars that prevent tyranny.”

Those tactics pioneered against Wikileaks – excluding dissenters from the financial system.

…. and coercing tech companies to deny them internet access without a whiff of due process – have now become standard weapons. Trudeau’s government seizes and freezes bank accounts with no judicial process.

Centralized powers are coalescing in alignment and in agreement with corporate power to limit the ability of ordinary people to protest about the condition of their lives.

Whether or not there are extremist elements to a protest or indeed any large group of human beings. You can see why it’s favorable to amplify that narrative, if you want to oppose and shut down any form of dissent. And that’s exactly what’s happened here.

Kicking people off social media deprives them of the right to speak in our increasingly online world. Locking them out of the financial economy is worse: It deprives them of the right to make a living. We have seen how cancel culture can obliterate one’s ability to earn an income, but now the cancelled may find themselves without a way to pay for goods and services. Previously, cancelled employees who would never again have the opportunity to work for a Fortune 500 company at least had the option to go into business for themselves. But if they cannot purchase equipment, pay employees, or receive payment from clients and customers, that door closes on them, too.

Whatever you think about the pandemic it is being used to increase power and control in important ways that may never again be undone.

I think these systems are coalescing and working in unison to create an ever encroaching technocratic dictatorship that, as the conspiracy theorists always told us, will become a centralized global government.

 

Liberty is lost through complacency and a subservient mindset. When we accept or even welcome automobile checkpoints, random searches, mandatory identification cards, and paramilitary police in our streets, we have lost a vital part of our American heritage. America was born of protest, revolution, and mistrust of government. Subservient societies neither maintain nor deserve freedom for long.

Chris Hedges vs Tyrannical Bullshit

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censored

We are becoming a totalitarian state and this proves it.

Eric C. Anderson

Hedges: On Being Disappeared

Chris Hedges in SCHEERPOST [✂️excerpt]

The entire archive of six years of my show On Contact has been removed by YouTube.
The entire archive of On Contact, the Emmy-nominated show I hosted for six years for RT America and RT International, has been disappeared from YouTube. Gone is the interview with Nathaniel Philbrick on his book about George Washington. Gone is the discussion with Kai Bird on his biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Gone is my exploration with Professor Sam Slote from Trinity College Dublin of James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” Gone is the show with Benjamin Moser on his biography of Susan Sontag. Gone is the show with Stephen Kinzer on his book on John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles. Gone are the interviews with the social critics Cornel West, Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky, Gerald Horne, Wendy Brown, Paul Street, Gabriel Rockwell, Naomi Wolff and Slavoj Zizek. Gone are the interviews with the novelists Russell Banks and Salar Abdoh. Gone is the interview with Kevin Sharp, a former federal judge, on the case of Leonard Peltier. Gone are the interviews with economists David Harvey and Richard Wolff. Gone are the interviews with the combat veterans and West Point graduates Danny Sjursen and Eric Edstrom about our wars in the Middle East. Gone are the discussions with the journalists Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi. Gone are the voices of those who are being persecuted and marginalized, including the human rights attorney Steven Donziger and the political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal. None of the shows I did on mass incarceration, where I interviewed those released from our prisons, are any longer on YouTube. Gone are the shows with the cartoonists Joe Sacco and Dwayne Booth. Melted into thin air, leaving not a rack behind.

I received no inquiry or notice from YouTube. I vanished. In totalitarian systems you exist, then you don’t. I suppose this was done in the name of censoring Russian propaganda, although I have a hard time seeing how a detailed discussion of “Ulysses” or the biographies of Susan Sontag and J. Robert Oppenheimer had any connection in the eyes of the most obtuse censors in Silicon Valley with Vladimir Putin. Indeed, there is not one show that dealt with Russia. I was on RT because, as a vocal critic of US imperialism and militarism and, of the corporate control of the two ruling parties, and especially because I support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, I was blacklisted. I was on RT for the same reason the dissident Vaclav Havel, who I knew, was on Voice of America during the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. It was that or not be heard. Havel had no more love for the policies of Washington than I have for those of Moscow.

[ … This is an ✂️ excerpt. Please support 💰 SCHEERPOST … ]

Forget all those virtuous words they taught you in school about our system of government. The real words to describe American power are “plunder,” “fraud,” “criminality,” “deceit,” “murder” and “repression.” And let me add “censorship”.

US Hegemony Threatens Us All

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US Hegemony

Censorship and propaganda, the two arms of imperial narrative control, are escalating like nothing we’ve ever seen before and FB is in lockstep with this agenda.

Trudeau’s recent implementation of the Emergency Act tipped their hand (so-called western democracy’s) as to the tyranny that awaits us all who dissent against capitalist and imperialist control.

The enemy is ^not Russia or China. What threatens us and the world as a whole is the mindless quest of US unipolar planetary domination. You don’t become a unipolar planetary hegemon by being nice, you do it by forcefully tilting all global happenings toward your benefit. Which is what we are seeing playing out, once again, this time in Ukraine with NATO (US sycophants) doing their part with our illustrious Trudeau as the main cheerleader from Canada.

US Hegemony

Know thy enemy, they say. Well, all we have to do is look in the mirror. The enemy is US.

 

When the media refuses to inform and the public no longer questions, that truly is the beginning of the end of democracy.

Media Pushing For War

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Media Presses for Weapons Instead of Diplomacy in Ukraine

Reporters asked Press Secretary Jen Psaki why the administration isn’t doing more to arm Ukraine. The Intercept’s Ryan Grim asked what the U.S. is doing to push for peaceful negotiations.

 

 

What if I told you your perception is a misconception because of media deception?

Ukraine on Fire

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Ukraine. Across its eastern border is Russia and to its west-Europe. For centuries, it has been at the center of a tug-of-war between powers seeking to control its rich lands and access to the Black Sea. 2014’s Maidan Massacre triggered a bloody uprising that ousted president Viktor Yanukovych and painted Russia as the perpetrator by Western media. But was it? “Ukraine on Fire” by Igor Lopatonok..

The Truth About The Russia-Ukraine War

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Relying on provably false information, not least ‘war fakes’ being churned out by the minute by psy-ops brigades in Ukraine and elsewhere in ‘NATOstan’, and two decades of gross misrepresentation of Putin and Russia’s actions on the world stage, the Western world is almost universally answering these questions in the affirmative.

On this NewsReal, Joe and Niall break through the wall-to-wall disinformation to bring you a realistic picture of what is happening in Ukraine, and why it is indeed a moment in time with truly historic consequences for the whole world.

 

What you’re seeing

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My Blog

John Prince header

This Blog of mine….

After a 9 year hiatus from posting on a blog of mine, I’ve decided to return. Why? Well, After Giuseppe Mazzini says it best:

“Life is not given to us that we might live idly without work. No, our life is a struggle and a journey. Good should struggle with evil; truth should struggle with falsehood; freedom should struggle with slavery; love should struggle with hatred. Life is movement, a walk along the way of life to the fulfillment of those ideas which illuminate us, both in our intellect and in our hearts, with divine light.”

All of the posts dating from before this post here are from my previous blog that I shut down back in 2013. From thousands of posts I’ve selected just a few that are not necessarily political in nature, for the most part, but rather of a feel good variety along with also being some of my favourites. I’ve done this because I felt I needed some filler to get things rolling, and how better to start a blog than with interesting, thought-provoking, heartwarming, soul quenching, and inspirational posts and videos.

“Bringing you information, opinions, and views on the socio-political scene since 2008”

Above was the tagline on my homepage that says it all on what my old blog was all about. This one will be more of the same (I think?), beginning with 2022.

So with that, lets get the ball rolling. Always keeping n mind, “Ain’t but three things in this world that’s worth a solitary dime, But old dogs and children and watermelon wine”. 🙂

John Prince

VIDEO: Generation WE

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Millennial Generation

By Generation We

Millennials are the largest generation in American history. Born between 1978 and 2000, WE are 95 million strong, compared to the 78 million Baby Boomers.

WE are politically, socially, and philosophically independent, and are spearheading a period of sweeping change in America and around the world.

The new book, Generation We, explains the emerging power of our Millennial Generation, and shows how WE (and older people who think the way WE do) are poised to change our nation and our world for the better.

Generation WE: The Movement Begins…

DOWNLOAD THE FULL BOOK, FREE:
gen-we.com/sites/default/files/GenWe_EntireBook3.pdf

 

Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.

from John Prince

VIDEO: Autistic Basketball

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It’s amazing how the people who are considered not to be the normal always touch so many lives…

Autistic Basketball

Jason Mcelwain is an autistic basketball player. He has an incredible passion for basketball, but hindered by his autism, Jason becomes team manager of the varsity team.

 

Don’t let what other people think decide who you are.

from John Prince

Taking Care of Business

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Tomato Garden

Tomato Garden

An old Italian gentleman lived alone in New Jersey. He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work, as the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:

Dear Vincent,
I am feeling pretty sad because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here, my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days.

Love, Papa

A few days later he received a letter from his son.

Dear Papa,
Don’t dig up that garden. That’s where the bodies are buried.

Love, Vinnie

At 4 a.m. the next morning FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left. That same day the old man received another letter from his son.

Dear Papa,
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances.

Love you,
Vinnie

 

Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.

from John Prince

Long-Married Couple Die Holding Hands

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elderly-couple

Holding Hands

Huffpost

For one Iowa couple, true love lasted until the very end.

Married 72 years, Norma, 90, and Gordon Yeager, 94, died in the hospital holding hands last week, one hour apart.

The couple was hospitalized after a car accident just outside of Marshalltown, Iowa. They were given a shared room in the ICU where they held hands in adjacent beds.

At 3:38 pm last Wednesday, Gordon’s breathing stopped. Though he was no longer alive, his heart monitor continued to register a beat.

The nurse told Gordon and Norma’s son, Dennis Yeager, that the monitor was beeping “because they’re holding hands, and [Norma’s heart beat] is going through them,” Dennis recalled in an interview with Des Moines’ KCCI news station. “Her heart was beating through him.”

Norma died at 4:38 pm, exactly one hour later.

Gordon and Norma’s children say they’re glad the couple passed this way. “They just loved being together,” says Dennis. “He always said, ‘I can’t go until she does because I gotta stay here for her.’ And she would say the same thing.”

Long-Married Couple Gordon Yeager And Norma Yeager Die Holding Hands

 

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.

from John Prince

VIDEO: Ahmadinejad speech at UN

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Full speech by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at UN General Assembly 2011

Ahmadinejad speech at UN

Events at the UN gathering in New York have once again been heated up by the speech of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. U.S., France and other western delegations walked out of the assembly as a sign of protest at his claims.

I’m american and I totally agree with him. I never voted for these politicians and I apologize for their ridiculous behavior. I’m really glad Iran has the guts to stand up to our fascist govt. good for them.

 

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

from John Prince

Ice Cream Sundae

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ice cream sundae
ice cream sundae

Ice Cream Sundae

An 11 year-old girl entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of her. “How much is an ice cream sundae”? The little girl asked. “Four dollars,” replied the waitress. The little girl pulled her hand out of her pocket and studied the coins she had. “Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” she inquired. By now, more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. “Three dollars” she replied. The little girl again counted her coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” she said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The girl finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, her face took on a new look. As she wiped down the table, there placed neatly beside the empty dish were three quarters, two dimes and one nickel. Believe it or not, this little girl made a hard choice. She couldn’t have the sundae because she wanted to have enough money to leave a tip.

 

The petty economies of the rich are just as amazing as the silly extravagances of the poor.

from John Prince

VIDEO: Simply The Best!….

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…. even if I do say so myself.

(To watch this video in full-screen mode click here)

Official video of Tina Turner performing The Best from the album Foreign Affair.

Simply The Best

I call you when I need you, my heart’s on fire
You come to me, come to me wild and wired
When you come to me
Give me everything I need
Give me a lifetime of promises and a world of dreams
Speak a language of love like you know what it means
And it can’t be wrong
Take my heart and make it strong baby

You’re simply the best, better than all the rest
Better than anyone, anyone I’ve ever met
I’m stuck on your heart, and hang on every word you say
Tear us apart, baby I would rather be dead

In your heart I see the star of every night and every day
In your eyes I get lost, I get washed away
Just as long as I’m here in your arms
I could be in no better place

You’re simply the best, better than all the rest
Better than anyone, anyone I’ve ever met
I’m stuck on your heart, and hang on every word you say
Tear us apart, baby I would rather be dead

Each time you leave me I start losing control
You’re walking away with my heart and my soul
I can feel you even when I’m alone
Oh baby, don’t let go

 

Don’t let what other people think decide who you are.

from John Prince

You Don’t Treat me no Good no More

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“Woh-oh lover, lover lover you don’t treat me no good no more,”

 

We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.

from John Prince

VIDEO: Ultimate Dog Tease

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Ultimate Dog Tease

Dogs… Love…. Food.

Amusing video of dog dubbed with voiceover is rated number one on YouTube. http://abcn.ws/kzBFuj

 

The one, absolute, unselfish friend
That man can have in this selfish world,
The one that never deserts him,
The one that never proves ungrateful
or treacherous, is his dog.

from John Prince

VIDEO: Wow! – The Power of Words

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The Power of Words


To watch this video in full-screen mode click here.

Discover the power of transforming your own words in Andrea Gardner’s book ‘Change Your Words, Change Your World’ at http://amzn.to/xfrT2U

 

One cannot always be a hero, but one can always be a human.

from John Prince

A Frightening Satellite Tour

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foreclosures

…. of America’s Foreclosure Wastelands.

Gus Lubin

RealtyTrac is out with the total foreclosure numbers for 2010. On the whole things are getting worse.

72 percent of major metro areas saw an increase in foreclosure volume. Although some of the worst hit areas in Nevada, California and Florida improved from 2009, the foreclosure rate in these areas remains shockingly high. If not for some foreclosure suspensions due to the robosigning scandal, these numbers would have been higher.

For a frightening way to visualize the foreclosure crisis, we’re borrowing a Google maps technique described by Barry Ritholtz.

Click here for a satellite tour of the foreclosure crisis >

 

There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.

from John Prince

Life Along the Livingstone

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The Livingstone Range

The Livingstone Range is part of the Front Ranges of the Canadian Rockies in southwestern Alberta. It’s a spectacular landscape and one of the key headwaters for the South Saskatchewan River watershed. The area is threatened by a proposed open pit mine. This video looks at the potential impact the mine would have on the land and the people who live in the area.

Beauty is truth, truth beauty, – that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

from John Prince

The girl who silenced the world….

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…. for 5 min! Must watch.

The Girl Who Silenced the World. This is an incredible video of a Canadian girl who spoke to the United Nations and left them completely silent and speechless for six minutes. Her name is Severn Cullis-Suzuki, and her speech was given at a U.N. assembly in Brazil when she was twelve years old. She had raised all the money to travel to the delegation, five thousand miles from her home, herself. She addressed a UN Meeting on issue of environment.

Severn Cullis-Suzuki

Severn Cullis-Suzuki

Raised in Vancouver and Toronto, Severn Cullis-Suzuki has been camping and hiking all her life. When she was 9 she started the Environmental Children’s Organization (ECO), a small group of children committed to learning and teaching other kids about environmental issues. They were successful in many projects before 1992, when they raised enough money to go to the UN’s Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Their aim was to remind the decision-makers of who their actions or inactions would ultimately affect. The goal was reached when 12 yr old Severn closed a Plenary Session with a powerful speech that received a standing ovation.

This brave young girl’s message to me is best summed up in the following quote:

People today foolishly try to believe that all the world’s senselessness and cruelty – the richness of the few, the great poverty of the many, the violence and warfare – happens outside their own lives and does not interfere with them and their way of life.

The future is in our children, should we not prepare a better way for them, and in doing so listen to what they have to say? After all, it has been said only the very old and the very young speak words of wisdom. There is much wisdom in what she has to say. Hopefully, it does not fall on deaf ears.

“Think Globally, Act Locally”

 

I raise up my voice not so that I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard. 

from John Prince

Whitney Houston…. with no bad habits

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Lin Yu Chun

Taiwanese Boy (Lin Yu Chun) Sings Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” on the Taiwanese singing competition “Super Star Avenue”. Do you think he is better than Whitney?

 

It is a great ability to be able to conceal one’s ability.

from John Prince

Brother Ali – Uncle Sam Goddamn

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Uncle Sam Goddamn

“Uncle Sam Goddamn”, Brother Ali’s riveting take on America’s checkered past…reminding us of the American political system’s addiction to war and that the taxes are an effective funding of crack heads…he believes that the actualities of life are more important to rap about…a true poet…with excellent flow…I can see the revival of true hip-hop…what do you think?!

Lyrics to Uncle Sam Goddamn :

 

“Idealism is what precedes experience; cynicism is what follows.”

from John Prince

Who Killed CANADA?

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Who Killed CANADA?

Based on Mel Hurtig’s ‘The Truth About Canada’, features Mel, includes nonbiased, nonpartisan StatsCan data, OECD studies, polls and graphs.

This series of 8 videos is a ‘must see’ for all Canadians.

 


“It is my dream that this beautiful country will never die.”

— Pierre Elliott Trudeau

 

from John Prince

Friday humour… ALWAYS ASK!

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Pilot

Always Ask, Never Assume!!

His request approved, the CNN News photographer quickly used a cell phone to call the local airport to charter a flight.
He was told a twin-engine plane would be waiting for him at the airport.
Arriving at the airfield, he spotted a plane warming up outside a hanger.
He jumped in with his bag, slammed the door shut, and shouted, ‘Let’s go’.
The pilot taxied out, swung the plane into the wind and took off.
Once in the air, the photographer instructed the pilot, ‘Fly over the valley and make low passes so I can take pictures of the fires on the hillsides.’ ‘Why?’ asked the pilot.
‘Because I’m a photographer for CNN’ , he responded, ‘and I need to get some close up shots.’
The pilot was strangely silent for a moment, finally he stammered, ‘So, what you’re telling me, is . . . You’re NOT my flight instructor?’

 

You should never assume. You know what happens when you assume. You make an ass out of you and me because that’s how it’s spelled.

from John Prince

Aerial Photo Panorama – Vancouver

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Olympic Village, Vancouver

This is *GREAT!!* … check it out!!!

http://www.aerialphotoimage.com/panoramas/GreaterVancouver/OlympicVillageVancouver.html

 

It’s not bragging if you can back it up.

from John Prince

Subject: $100.00

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$100 bill_front

$100.00

Its a slow day in a little Southwestern Alberta town.. The sun is beating down, and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.. On this particular day a rich tourist from back east is driving through town.

He stops at the motel and lays a $100 bill on the desk saying he
wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night.

As soon as the man walks upstairs, the owner grabs the bill and
runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher.

The butcher takes the $100 and runs down the street to retire his
debt to the pig farmer.

The pig farmer takes the $100 and heads off to pay his bill at the
supplier of feed and fuel.

The guy at the Farmer’s Co-op takes the $100 and runs to pay his
debt to the local prostitute, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer her “services” on credit.

The hooker rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill with the
hotel owner.

The hotel proprietor then places the $100 back on the counter so
the rich traveler will not suspect anything.

At that moment the traveler comes down the stairs, picks up the
$100 bill, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town.

No one produced anything. No one earned anything.

However, the whole town is now out of debt and now looks to the
future with a lot more optimism.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the Canadian
Government is conducting business today.

 

The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.

from John Prince

Some Holiday Music

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Holiday Music

Peter Cetera (formerly of the band “Chicago”) and his daughter Claire perform Blue Christmas in 2008 with Sasha.

Sasha hasn’t competed since the World Championships in March 2006, but she will be making a comeback at the U.S. Championships on Jan 21st (short) and Jan 23rd (long) in Spokane.

 

Those who struggle may fail. Those who do not struggle have already failed.

from John Prince

True Story About Rudolph

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Rudolph

A little reindeer named “Rudolph”

A man named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night.
His 4-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bob’s wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer. Little Barbara couldn’t understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad’s eyes and asked, “Why isn’t Mommy just like everybody else’s Mommy?” Bob’s jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob’s life. Life always had to be different for Bob.

Small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he’d rather not remember. From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn’s bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938.

Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn’t even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn’t buy a gift, he was determined a make one, a storybook! Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal’s story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named “Rudolph”, with a big shiny nose. Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn’t end there.

The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book. In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter. But the story doesn’t end there either.

Bob’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore , it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of “White Christmas.”

The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning back to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn’t so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing.

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2009

We manifest in love our understanding of the unity of our being with others, and in so doing we make our life greater. The more we love, the wider, larger, and more joyful our life becomes.

 

There is no past and no future; no one has ever entered those two imaginary kingdoms. There is only the present. Do not worry about the future, because there is no future. Live in the present, and if your present is good, then it is good forever.

If you have difficult times, if you suffer from the loss of loved ones or from fears about the future, remember that life exists only in the present and direct all your thoughts and memories to this present. All your anguish about the past and your worries about the future will disappear, and you will feel freedom and happiness.

from John Prince

Battle at Kruger

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Battle at Kruger (lion, crocodile, buffalo)

Amazing story of survival, bravery, and the power of numbers.

 

We be many and they be few.

from John Prince

The Folded Napkins Story

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The Folded Napkin — A Trucker’s Story

A Truckers Story. If this doesn’t light your fire…. your wood is wet!

Folded Napkins Story

I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie. His placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy. But I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn’t sure I wanted one. I wasn’t sure how my customers would react to Stevie.

He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Downs Syndrome. I wasn’t worried about most of my trucker customers because truckers don’t generally care who buses tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade.

The four-wheeler drivers were the ones who concerned me; the mouthy college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded “truck stop germ” the pairs of white-shirted business men on expense accounts who think every truck stop waitress wants to be flirted with. I knew those people would be uncomfortable around Stevie so I closely watched him for the first few weeks.

I shouldn’t have worried. After the first week, Stevie had my staff wrapped around his stubby little finger, and within a month my truck regulars had adopted him as their official truck stop mascot.

After that, I really didn’t care what the rest of the customers thought of him. He was like a 21-year-old in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties. Every salt and pepper shaker was exactly in its place, not a bread crumb or coffee spill was visible when Stevie got done with the table. Our only problem was persuading him to wait to clean a table until after the customers were finished. He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty. Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully bus dishes and glasses onto his cart and meticulously wipe the table up with a practiced flourish of his rag.

If he thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added concentration. He took pride in doing his job exactly right, and you had to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.

Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their Social Security benefits in public housing two miles from the truck stop. Their social worker, who stopped to check on him every so often, admitted they had fallen between the cracks. Money was tight, and what I paid him was probably the difference between them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group home. That’s why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August, the first morning in three years that Stevie missed work.

He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new valve or something put in his heart. His social worker said that people with Downs Syndrome often have heart problems at an early age so this wasn’t unexpected, and there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be back at work in a few months.

A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word came that he was out of surgery, in recovery, and doing fine.

Frannie, the head waitress, let out a war hoop and did a little dance in the aisle when she heard the good news.

Belle Ringer, one of our regular trucker customers, stared at the sight of this 50-year-old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his table.

Frannie blushed, smoothed her apron and shot Belle Ringer a withering look.

He grinned. “OK, Frannie, what was that all about?” he asked.

“We just got word that Stevie is out of surgery and going to be okay.”

“I was wondering where he was. I had a new joke to tell him. What was the surgery about?

“Frannie quickly told Belle Ringer and the other two drivers sitting at his booth about Stevie’s surgery, then sighed: “Yeah, I’m glad he is going to be OK,” she said. “But I don’t know how he and his Mom are going to handle all the bills. From what I hear, they’re barely getting by as it is.” Belle Ringer nodded thoughtfully, and Frannie hurried off to wait on the rest of her tables. Since I hadn’t had time to round up a busboy to replace Stevie and really didn’t want to replace him, the girls were busing their own tables that day until we decided what to do.

After the morning rush, Frannie walked into my office. She had a couple of paper napkins in her hand and a funny look on her face.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“I didn’t get that table where Belle Ringer and his friends were sitting cleared off after they left, and Pony Pete and Tony Tipper were sitting there when I got back to clean it off,” she said. “This was folded and tucked under a coffee cup.

“She handed the napkin to me, and three $20 bills fell onto my desk when I opened it. On the outside, in big, bold letters, was printed “Something for Stevie”.

“Pony Pete asked me what that was all about,” she said, “so I told him about Stevie and his Mom and everything, and Pete looked at Tony and Tony looked at Pete, and they ended up giving me this.” She handed me another paper napkin that had “Something For Stevie” scrawled on its outside. Two $50 bills were tucked within its folds. Frannie looked at me with wet, shiny eyes, shook her head and said simply: “truckers.

“That was three months ago. Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Stevie is supposed to be back to work.

His placement worker said he’s been counting the days until the doctor said he could work, and it didn’t matter at all that it was a holiday. He called 10 times in the past week, making sure we knew he was coming, fearful that we had forgotten him or that his job was in jeopardy. I arranged to have his mother bring him to work. I then met them in the parking lot and invited them both to celebrate his day back.

Stevie was thinner and paler, but couldn’t stop grinning as he pushed through the doors and headed for the back room where his apron and busing cart were waiting.

“Hold up there, Stevie, not so fast,” I said. I took him and his mother by their arms. “Work can wait for a minute. To celebrate you coming back, breakfast for you and your mother is on me!” I led them toward a large corner booth at the rear of the room.

I could feel and hear the rest of the staff following behind as we marched through the dining room. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth of grinning truckers empty and join the procession. We stopped in front of the big table. Its surface was covered with coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates, all sitting slightly crooked on dozens of folded paper napkins. “First thing you have to do, Stevie, is clean up this mess,” I said. I tried to sound stern.

Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the napkins. It had “Something for Stevie” printed on the outside. As he picked it up, two $10 bills fell onto the table.

Stevie stared at the money, then at all the napkins peeking from beneath the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it. I turned to his mother. “There’s more than $10,000 in cash and checks on that table, all from truckers and trucking companies that heard about your problems. “Happy Thanksgiving,

“Well, it got real noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and shouting, and there were a few tears, as well.

But you know what’s funny? While everybody else was busy shaking hands and hugging each other, Stevie, with a big, big smile on his face, was busy clearing all the cups and dishes from the table.

Best worker I ever hired.

Plant a seed and watch it grow.

At this point, you can bury this inspirational message or forward it fulfilling the need!

If you shed a tear, hug yourself, because you are a compassionate person.

——————————

 

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.

from John Prince